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Health & Parenting

Why Bullies Bully

What you need to know about bullying, bullies, and how to stop the cycle of bullying.
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

The Phoebe Prince bullying case in South Hadley, Mass., has put bullying in the national spotlight. After months of alleged bullying by classmates that reportedly included verbal assaults, online harassment, and social exclusion, Prince, a 15-year-old high school student, took her own life.

Although most cases aren't as extreme, bullying takes its toll on children across the U.S. every day. For every 100 kids in middle school, eight are bullied every day, seven are bullied every week, and 33 are bullied once in a while, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Jordon Fonville, a 17-year-old junior in Conway, Ark., knows firsthand what it feels like to be bullied. Six years ago when she was a new student in sixth grade, she was picked on and bullied for months by her classmates.

"The girls were so mean to me," says Fonville, who speaks out against bullying in her community. "They talked about me, made up rumors, picked on me… they even went to the principal's office and asked for advice on how to tell me they didn't want to be friends anymore -- and the principal didn't do anything about it."

For Fonville, being bullied by her peers was an extremely difficult experience -- making her feel bad about herself, depressed, and alone. Fortunately, her parents recognized the situation needed adult intervention and transferred their daughter to another school.

Why do bullies bully? And what can be done to stop to bullying? Here's what experts told WebMD.

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